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Monday
Sep042017

The motley, inter-generational crew that make up church

In a big city, you can spend your whole life with a cohort who fit precisely into your demographic. Churches, like country towns, come with the gift of exposing you to people with whom you have very little in common.

This is one of the things I treasure about belonging to a church community. Far from the stereotype of a cosy club of like-minded and self-satisfied folk, the churches I know are a motley mix of sinners and saints; a rich range of races, abilities, socio-economic levels and ages.

Where else in a modern city do your kids get to interact with old people, week after week, festival after festival, through baptisms and funerals, through trauma and conflict, in lament and in celebration?

When we moved to Melbourne, we attended a church in the inner north, which was populated largely by university students, many of whom were living in the city for the first time. We dug in with these interesting individuals whose ages ranged from 18 to 23, catching up each Sunday, occasionally having them around to our place, accepting their offers of babysitting our mob, to whom they were the epitome of cool. When our kids didn’t want to talk to us about something, it was sometimes this group – half way between their generation and ours – that they turned to.

We have remained close to a number of these good people – now approaching middle age – attending several weddings over the years and one funeral. Many of them have produced a family who are giving them the joys and challenges they observed us navigating years ago. (Our kids, as they grew up, babysat theirs.) They are running businesses, completing PhDs, working at jobs, paying off mortgages. Some are involved in church, others aren’t.

It moves me deeply, the opportunity to watch generations being born, growing up and making their way in the world and, at the other end of the spectrum, caring for people who we first knew in vibrant middle-age and who are becoming frail, walking with them as they enter the valley of the shadow of death.

The health practitioner I attend most regularly is an impressive woman I first met as a shy 18-year-old, freshly up from the country for tertiary education. She now has babies of her own, a thriving business and still does the hands-on work she loves. Once or twice a month she works her magic on my warped and ageing back and neck, keeping me comparatively supple and mobile, skilfully, firmly and tenderly caring for me. As she works on me, we chat endlessly about our common community, the new babies and the grim diagnoses, the struggles and the joys. I remember her so clearly, not long out of childhood, and now, I am literally in her hands.

With all its frailties and frustrations, being part of a church community has given me this - the privilege of being part of lives different from my own.

Pubished in the September issue of The Melbourne Anglican

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Reader Comments (1)

Beautiful and so true!

September 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Perrin

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